Monday, April 14, 2014

Glencoyne, Watermillock Common and Gowbarrow

looking south down Ullswater from Brown Hills area on Watermillock Common

looking towards Glencoyne Head from the climb
I was out on my own today so it was an opportunity to explore new ground.  I've been looking at the nice ledge track around Glencoyne for a while.  We ran a bit of it on the GL3d last year where we crossed Glencoyne to get to Birkhouse Moor.

path and wall junction - where I eventually wanted to go
My plan today was to park at the Glencoyne car park (this is the NT car park right by the side of Ullswater before you get to Glenridding) and then head up the side of the valley, around the top and then pick up the track that goes along the wall below Watermillock Common.  This is a track that I spied on Google Earth, looking like it is a nice long descent.  I wasn't wrong, but more of that later.

As I climbed the path, I noticed that the path continues to climb up to the point where I wanted to head off along the wall.  I knew that it was passable with a little bit of care at the top of the valley, Glencoyne Head, but thought it might be better to climb up to the top of Glencoyne Head and then drop down to the wall.

Once up Glencoyne Head, I decided to carry on over to Hart Crag.  There are tracks in the grass here and the gradient levels out.  It was only when running down to the aforementioned wall that I realised that I had missed Hart Crag and instead visited an area known as White Stones.

Once I had dropped down to the wall, I followed the track north east for about two miles.  Very nice running here, single track, a few easy climbs but mostly very comfortably downhill.  At the car park in the disused quarry, there were a couple of NT Rangers that I recognised from Fix the Fells.  They are doing a lot of work at Aira Force, around Gowbarrow Fell and along Ullswater shore.  There was an option to shorten the run here, heading back down the road and picking up a path back to Glencoyne but the run around Gowbarrow is so nice that I couldn't resist.

looking back down the track at Glencoyne

the track I am on carries on all the way around the valley and can be seen intersecting with the wall at the top centre of this picture.  The wall halfway down this wall is the one I want to pick up and run along.

up to a snowcapped Helvellyn from Nick Head (the top of Glencoyne Valley)

Helvellyn and Raise from - duh, White Stones.  The ski lift can be seen on Raise
the (general) direction of travel - really nice running from here to the road at Parkgate Farm

looking back to where I had come from, lots of good running here.  Just beyond this point I took a right instead of a left which would have taken me to the top of Hart Crag.

Watermillock Common is the long fell below.  I'm running down to it and then along from right to left, dropping down to a really nice path along the wall.

looking back across Glencoyne.  The track I took looks steeper from here.

looking south down Ullswater.  The path I want is along the wall below and runs very nicely all the way to Parkhouse Farm, our usual parking spot for Gowbarrow Fell.

on top of Gowbarrow and I think that might be the wall I ran along in the middle of the picture

great singletrack around Gowbarrow
I was getting a bit tired by now and walked all the way up to the summit of Gowbarrow rather than the usual run I do from where it levels off a bit.

I had an option of crossing to bag Little Mell Fell via Great Meldrum (great name) and coming back through Swinburn's Park but my knee was twinging a bit so I had an easy run around the usual route.

It was quite busy around here, lots of people enjoying the sun, sat on the various promontories that sit just off the path.

view south west from Yew Crag on Gowbarrow Fell
I stopped at Yew Crag to refuel and check my onwards route on the map.  Across Aira Beck just above the visitors centre and then onto the new lakeside path for about another mile back to the car.

11.7 miles all together.  A good day out and some new areas explored.  I think I can adapt this route to go up from Glenridding up Greenside Road, up the windy track to Whiteside and Raise.  Then from Stybarrow Dodd, down over Hart Crag (ahem!) and on to pick up the route I took.

busy day at Aira Force

great new lakeside path

where I sat to chill after the run, over the road from my car

11.7 miles


  1. Absolutely beautiful country! Congratulations on getting to run it! Happy Trails!